It’s Saturday morning and Startup Pirates @ Porto second edition is coming to an end. One week of business modeling, branding, pitching, mentorship and teamwork is over and it’s time to let the team’s ideas shine.
The jury has voted on Pepito to win this edition. Pepito is a virtual parrot that wants to be a replacement for Frequented Asked Questions. The parrot, I mean, the Natural Language Processing algorithm behind it, takes a question from a web user and tries to answer with the current knowledge base. The bird seems kinder than the question and answers list and I guess that if these guys tweak the data model and the algorithm right they might get some cookies. And there were no pirates involved in the jury, so a parrot winning is just a coincidence. Or maybe good marketing. The team behind Pepito is working on the beta invite version and will start testing in a couple of months. And they might have to spend $34,020 to buy pepito.com from the Russian cybersquatters that own it.
Second place was taken ex aequo by Beaunity and MiniMobil.
Beaunity stands for “beauty community”, a new venture from the people behind asunhasdecoradas.com, a Joomla based community of 76,000 Portuguese speaking nail decoration lovers. Wouldn’t I had noticed those girls at the shopping center nailing women to their sales pitch for trimming, varnishing, decorating and you know what more, and I would not understand the business. The team wants to broaden the experience to all segments in the beauty market and is already working in the concept to launch a beta phase within a couple of months. They should manage to take on this Christmas.
MiniMobil is a rent a scooter for those with reduced mobility. I know drop-off drop-on bicycle renting is quite common in many cities, but these guys bet on two essential issues. First is that not everyone is capable of riding a bike safely, as many elder and disabled people. Second that not every city is like Copenhagen or Amsterdam, as it’s the case of Porto’s steep slopes. That’s why it makes some sense to set a pilot at Porto and fine tune the business model, based obviously on renting fees and advertising. These guys should piggyback on their excellent partners and do it the right way: smart small, aim big, move fast. They’re also another cybersquatting victim, this time for an unknown amount to be paid to some South Korea guy.
The three winners get 6 months of pre-incubation or 3 months of incubation at UPTEC, Porto University Incubator, among other prizes. There are some pretty interesting things coming out from UPTEC, with the more visible Tuizzi and Uniplaces and some other 80 or something blossoming projects.
Other teams made nice presentations, thanks to the pirates’ excellent program. It’s not me saying, it’s the participants, speakers, mentors and the community feeling. And that’s why Zaragoza, Poznan, Macau, Cape Town, Barcelona, Braga and Rio de Janeiro are following. This only up to the end of the year, with many more to come. I know of as much as 500 cities where this should happen too, just depending on you guys reading this making it happen. Take my word: if not more, it’s a great line for your Curriculum Vitae.
I am thinking some Portuguese companies should have been present in the audience today. They wouldn’t have to be big companies, they would have just a bit of a need for innovation. Don’t we all? I recently wrote a book on that, called “Tech Days – enterprises, innovation, technology”. That’s right, for a change not read but wrote a book – sorry for all you English speakers but only in Portuguese (unless someone might want a translation deal, I’m OK with that). There are startups that will look for an IPO and most of them will fail. There are many startups that will get an investor but fail to deliver. There are startups that will make it to the market and will implode from lack of usage. And there are thousands of established companies that would benefit from a special deal, a seed contract, a joint venture or even an early investment in this innovative, micro teams that move faster than their pinky finger. I know if I were one of them I could have come out of the day with something new in the pocket. For them and all wannabe entrepreneurs that stayed home sleeping the morning, I invite you to drop in the next event.